One of this month’s Top Causes is The Anna Foundation the Western Cape. We’re recognising them not only for the dedication that they put into their profile on forgood, but for the work that they do in the communities they are present in. We interviewed them to learn a little more about who they are to share with, and inspire you.
Who are you and what do you do?
The Anna Foundation is all about inspiring young people and providing them with opportunities. The organisation implements after-school programmes on farms or rural low- income schools in the Western Cape, currently in the municipal districts of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Langeberg and the Overberg. The Anna Foundation aims to empower disadvantaged rural children with life skills and core values, building self-worth and self-responsibility.
The organisation’s “3Rs programme: Reading, Running, Right-ing” is implemented during after-school hours and incorporates education (literacy), sports (running, riding and sports development) and life skills programmes (presented through drama). Women and men from farming communities are trained by the Anna Foundation to run their 3R’s programme, and teenager and parent workshops are also provided.
The objectives of the Anna Foundation are: to address the educational and social needs of rural children and to offer these children life-long learning in order to build positive self-worth and self-respect; to train local farm women with the necessary skills in order for them to be confident in implementing programmes and managing projects; to empower parents and care givers living in rural communities in order to skill and equip them with skills to take greater responsibility for the development of their children within their home and school environment.
Why did you get started?
The Anna Foundation was started in July 2005 by Anna Brom who was volunteering as a remedial teacher on a disadvantaged farm school and township school in Mpumalanga. Remedial education at these schools largely entailed teaching basic literacy (i.e. reading and writing) to learners of all ages. A vast number of learners aged 15 – 17 years, still attending primary school, were identified as unable to read at the level of an average aged 9 child. No special needs teachers are provided in these schools and no support supplied for these slower learners. It became clear that the need for greater support to these isolated and underprivileged schools in South Africa was crucial. Challenges faced by these schools include overcrowded classrooms, limited educational resources, lack of library facilities, language constraints, isolated geographical locations and poor transport availability. The Anna Foundation was created to provide support to these rural children and to provide them with a stimulating and uplifting environment.
Anna started by providing support classes in English and Maths to learners from Ipani Primary school. The school had no library facility so Anna started a ‘library-in-a-box’system, providing children with their first ever taste of reading their own book. There were also no sports facilities at the school so Anna started a running group. These reading and running activities were then combined and became the start of the Anna Foundation 3R’s – ‘Reading. Running. Right-ing.’ programme. In order for children to become part of the running club, they had to read 2 books per week. The 3rd R: Right-ing was introduced to address the importance of positive self-esteem and self-worth, and help teach children different life skills
What is a story that keeps you going?
Mariska comes from a farm on the outskirts of Paarl where she grew up with her grandparents. She lived in a 2 bedroom house with her granny, grandpa, 2 siblings, 3 cousins (1 with a baby of her own) and periodically her mother. We met Mariska when the Anna Foundation opened an after school on this farm, and she joined the programme as a 5year old child. It didn’t take long to see the sparkle in Mariska’s eyes or notice the incredible passion she had for life and her natural ability as sports. Considering her background and the lack of a stable mother figure, it was incredible to observe her positive attitude. She was a keen learner, and in Grade 1 we identified her for the Anna Foundation Scholarship programme. While the challenges from home have been many, Mariska has thrived throughout her primary school career at Stellenbosch Primary. She showed great skill throughout her school years particularly in sport and has developed her sporting ability to represent Boland Netball AND Boland Hockey Provincial 1st teams. Her strength of character plus the step up provided by the Anna Foundation has allowed Mariska to shine with her true colours. Mariska was ALSO accepted at Stellenbosch High school for 2018 on a scholarship (Arranged by the Anna Foundation) and is boarding in the hostel at the school. Her future looks bright and she is an example of hope to so many others!